If You’re Happy and You Know It

I don’t often air my beef with the world on here because I don’t like conflict and I’m a terrible debater… But sometimes, something comes along that I’m so passionate about, I just can’t let it go. So here it is…

If You’re Happy and You Know It.

Beloved childhood ditty. With a four-year-old and an eleven-month-old in the house, I hear this song anywhere from 27 to 612 times per day. Sometimes I wake up and realize I’d been the one singing it.

The problem I have lies in the variations of the song. I grew up singing,

If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands. (x2)
If you’re happy and you know it AND YOU REALLY WANT TO SHOW IT,
If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands.

That makes sense. Like, if I was so jacked about something I started spontaneously clapping my hands? I’d be friggin happy. And I’d know it.

But then there’s the variation which, quite frankly, I hear more these days than the above version. It’s the one in which the third phrase goes,

If you’re happy and you know it THEN YOUR FACE WILL SURELY SHOW IT…

What? Why are you saying that? Sure, I’m probably smiling if I’m happy. But I thought we were talking about the clapping. Or the stomping. Or the shouting HOORAY with reckless abandon. Why are you suddenly talking about my face? It seems irrelevant! I thought the whole point of the song was to say if I’m happy and I know it I’m gonna perform said action. The face thing seems a totally unnecessary and, frankly, confusing side-note. Why not just sing,

If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands… If you’re happy and you know it, HEY I NOTICED YOU’RE WEARING A RED SHIRT, If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands.

It seems just as fitting.

So that’s it. God, that felt good. I’ve been just stewing in that one for a while now. Four years.

Now, I believe in freedom of opinion so, quite honestly, if you do decide you prefer to add the random tidbit about the face while I belt out, you know, the continuous train of thought, I will not judge you. In fact, we can harmonize our differences.

But I feel very strongly that… how can I put this respectfully… You are wrong. And I am right.

[Tee hee, I jest.]

Das all! *simultaneously stomping hands and clapping feet*

P.S. I’m well aware of the fact that I started this post with “air my beef”. And yes, that is hilarious.

HOAR

How to be a Fab Working Mom in 2017

Motherhood it exhausting. Like “horse tranq dart to the neck” exhausting. I’m Will Ferrell floating in a pool to “The Sound of Silence” ALL of the time.

[Stay with me.]

Work – while providing a much needed space to finish a whole coffee, pee in silence and talk to other adults (not always at the same time) – can also be exhausting. Especially in lieu of “sleeping at night”.

Whether you do one or both, you might find yourself feeling less than fabulous these days. Especially as everyone around you counts cals along with “days till the beach [sun-wearing-sunglasses emoji]”.

And you’re just over here trying to tuck everything into your high-waisted pants and literally suck snots out of small people’s noses.

You’re just trying to stay awake because it’s 8:59 on a Friday evening and you’re still young and hip, dammit. And you’re wishing the snacks weren’t all the way over there on the coffee table because now you are just going to have to die of hunger.

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…

WORRY NOT! The gusto of your yesteryears may be waning and you may not have the time/energy/giving-of-a-fuck to “shower daily”, per se… But I have the tools you need to unleash your inner firecracker.

Don’t get me wrong, I mean, I’m no one’s superhero but… Well, ok, except yours. I’m your superhero. But like, not in a “life-saving” way. *bashful smile*

[GIRL, I’M BOUT’DA SAVE YOUR LIFE!!!]

So here it is…

10 8 WAYS TO BE A FABULOUS WORKING (OR NOT) MOM (OR NOT) IN 2017:

[Ten was a long shot.]

1. It’s All in the Eyebrows

The Kardashians called it way before the rest of us. Big, bushy bad-boys blockin’ out the blistering ball of fire in the sky (#AlliterationOrBust)? It’s what’s up.

The key is, get the waterproof kind with a wand. That way when you wash your face, little balls of brown fabu-glue say clung to your sparce strands reminding you of your fabulousness even when you try to wash it away.

This month I’ve been out of mascara but ZERO bigs; when I’m rocking a jet black, asymmetrical version of Eugene Levy calibre brow fabulousness (self-taught!), no one even sees that I’ve got the lashes of a newborn boy.

2. Bald Spots

You know how you always imagined that, as a mother, you would have the dewy, rosy-cheeked, doe-eyed look of that actress from the old-timey Romeo and Juliet movie? Well good news: you totally will!

[Except it’s not so much dewy as sweaty. And it’s not so much “rosy cheeked” as it is “adult onset acne (henceforth, “AOA”; i.e. #RockinTheAOALikeABoss)”. And it’s not “doe-eyed” so much as “the-look-of-defeat-because-your-life-is-no-longer-your-own”.]

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This is exactly what I look like while trying to take a dump with three people in the room and listening to my four-year-old tell me how I got his snack wrong.

Additionally, you’ll inherit the most adorable triangles of hairline recession;

[as hormones rage through your exhausted shell of a body]

one on each side. Cuuuuuute! But if you’d prefer to get the patches back, you get to use a fun, little hard-toothed scalp brush to really kick-start the ol’ re-growth initiative. And THEN – and this is my favorite part – you’ll have not one but TWO totally fun, totally funky bangs fanning into your forehead toward midline.

I’m all like, “no, you guys, I did not get this professionally done. It’s just motherhood”.

[And then – in this weird, fictional sequence – we all high-five.]

3. Ugly Christmas Sweaters for All Seasons

I did not buy this $20 Christmas sweatshirt (not even a sweater) from Dynamite ironically. I bought it because it’s fucking gold. It’s comfortable as shit and airs out all my places. In fact, I wear it year-round. Some (my husband) might say I wear it every day of the year. And some would be correct.

I feel like I can do anything in this.

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The face (the sweatshirt) of a winner.

Small person puking on you? No problem – there are ZERO washing instructions for such low-quality garments. WIN.

Need to whip out a titty in a hurry? Bam! Nothing to untuck, nothing to unbutton. Just overstretched, crap material with no tailoring.

Without exaggerating, it’s the greatest thing I’ve ever purchased.

4. Master that Smoldering Gaze 

Don’t be fooled. That smokey-eye effect is totally still in. But not the kind that takes, you know, “eyeshadow” and “skill”. Nay!

In three easy steps you can have that sexy, sultry look of the sassy minx in the photo above.

Step 1. Use mascara wand to scrape the inner walls of the 1.5-year-old empty mascara tube. Step 2. Wiggle dry flakes of old mascara crumbs through lashes haphazardly. Step 3. Anxiety-sweat your way through the day, taking care to rub your eyes as often as possible, forgetting about the mascara. Step 4. Bam! Is there a fire in here? Because that’s smoke, baby!

Bonus tip: Compliment those shadowy peepers with a fuzzy updo – don’t forget the tousled neck hair – and a vibrant sweatshirt. What is that, Vuarnet? You go, girl!

5. Maternity Clothes Forever

You don’t have to be “pregnant” or “a mom” to avail of the limitless give of maternity clothes. Maternity = Forgiving when it comes to fashion. So buy all of the things (once they go on sale, of course. That shit’s expensive!)!

6. Zero Subnavel Grooming Until After Canada Day

For my out-of-country besties [I think mom has an uncle in Pennsylvania], that means July 1.

Nothing makes you feel sexy and summer-ready like taking zero care of your furry gams before the last frost. Because when you finally zip that pelt off? Wow. Unstoppable fabulosity.

7. Vent the Volcano

If you’re like me, being a mother means daily rage black-outs masked as silly banter with your beloved(ly demandy) offspring.

When I’m at my wit’s end because I haven’t slept longer than three consecutive hours in  a year and a half and my youngster is crying because “everything smells like eggs”… I don’t lose my cool. I don’t erupt. I “vent the volcano”. I belt out shitty Disney songs, like Let it Go, as loudly as I can. Outside your register? Even better!

Your daily nervous breakdowns are now fun for the whole family!

[Minus your partner. This is not fun for them.].

8. Screwdrivers

Because day-appropriate alcohol.

Also, Caesars.

LIFE

Day drinking: because children suck the meat from your tits. #emptytubesocks

You. Are. Welcome.

Go now, you fierce n’ fabulous femme (#AlliterationIsAWordThatMakesMeFeelSmart). You got dis! xo

~ HOAR

Chilli n’ Children n’ (no) Chill

You have every right to be mad at me. I keep promising “I’ll be right back” and then I bail. In all honesty I have tried. If you could see my screen right now, you’d see two draft posts entitled Exhibitionism and Afterbirth and My Biannual Identity Crisis. The titles pretty much sum up where I was going with those.

[There was also a third unfinished post about my new years resolutions which isn’t even worth mentioning. But since I’m mentioning it, it went something like…1. Call people ‘fam’ more; 2. Be more breathy and Irish when singing because that’s a thing; 3. Re-join the gym.]

[Just kidding about #3.]

But today, the universe forced my hand. I am no longer blogging for the fun of it (read: so that someday Ellen can discover me and buy me a Kia or something). I am blogging out of necessity. I must get this off my chest.

I used to be a pretty calm person. You might even say I was “laid back”. I’d earned the right to wear those giant, slouchy hats, even to fancy places like resonably-priced restaurants featuring free bread. But I lost all that since becoming a mother. Take note all you nulliparous (yes, it’s my favorite word) adventurers out there: all of your chill comes out with the afterbirth.

Motherhood makes me constantly question myself…

I am never doing enough – he is essentially growing up without a mother.

I am doing too much – I am going to turn him into a spoiled brat.

We should be doing more family stuff; at least once a week there should be a baby in a backpack and we should be hiking somewhere and taking photos of it.

But we’re doing too much; the baby is going to have attention problems because we won’t just let him be.

Pick up the baby. Let him self-soothe. Read to the baby. Play with the three-year old. Leave them alone, they’re fine.

And that’s just within the first ten minutes of being home from work…

So it’s “Winter Carnival” in Corner Brook now. Think: snow sculptures and local bands and  scrambled eggs in church halls. Yesterday at work, riding my now-normal, motherhood-induced, emotional rollercoaster, I was telling my patient that I might take my three-year old to today’s “Chilli Cook-off” in the park. I asked her if she thought I should (because, also since becoming a mother, I am confident in no decision ever and seek constant validation… Is that ok?).

To which she replied, “Your three-year old? Who are you doing it for – him or you?”

Him… Right?

I kept him home from music class and everything. I was being the mom that social media would be proud of. Er, I mean my son. The mother that my son would be proud of. What did I say, social media? What? Heh heh heh…heh heh…ergh…

We bundled up. I knew we would be walking to the park and that it was blustery so I wore the perfect knee-length woolen turtleneck with zero breathability.

Jokes on you, winter – I’m wearing a God-damn pelt that keeps my body at a damp 40°C. Bring it!

M really wasn’t digging the idea of walking to the park in the snow, but this was going to be a mother-son adventure. Bring on the flurries! We’re ready!

By the time we got to the end of our street, I was carrying him. The snow was blowing horizontally, directly into our faces. Navigating the snow-covered sidewalks with an extra 40lbs in my arms suddenly enchanced the tickle of the emerging back sweat I was struggling to ignore. This paired perfectly with the all-consuming itchiness of my aforementioned chin-to-shin afghan.

“Don’t worry”, I told him, with painfully forced pep. “We’re Newfoundlanders. We can handle a little snow! We’re tough”.

“…mommy, we should have taken the car!”

“Pardon, honey?!” I yelled. His small voice was muted by the wind. And by my downfilled parka (over the pelt) into which he buried his face.

“I think I want to go home!”

*sweaty guffaw failing to convey the intended fun-loving nature I was going for* “Oh don’t be silly, we’re almost there! I can see the giant tents!”

I trudged on, just letting myself go with the flow of the sweat as fighting it made me sweat more. At the parking lot of the park, M finally agreed to walk.

“Mommy, I’m cold”.

“Don’t worry sweety, we’ll be nice and cozy in the tent in a minute”.

And for a moment I saw, in his eyes, wonder and, dare I say, excitement (?) as he looked upon the three-peaked tent.

I knew it. This was totally worth it.

We entered the tent. The air smelled delicious. Unfortunately there was not much “air available for breathing”, per se. The place was packed; bodies – adults mostly – shoulder to shoulder, face to back-of-head. I paid my $7 and got my styrofoam bowl and spoon and score card for voting for best chilli.

“Oooooo, this is exciting, huh?” I tried my best to look genuinely thrilled but I’m pretty sure it was 100% prom-face palsy.

Out went his lower lip, down went his eyebrows.

“Mommy, where are all my friends?”

Oh Christ.

“What do you mean, sweety?” *open-mouthed, prom-face palsy smile* “This is mommy and M day!”

The lip protruded further.

Overwhelmed by the heat and the itch and the back sweat and the overall “life failure”, yet bobbing like an asshole to the music to let M know we’re having fun!!! I tore off my mittens and his.

I was holding two pairs of mittens, my bowl, my spoon and my score card. If he tried to flee right now, I couldn’t even stop him.

It’s too late to turn back. Just start eating chilli.

I stared at the back of two adult heads for what couldn’t have been more than eighteen minutes, tapping my foot and swaying like a goddamn champion (and not a defeatest in the throes of a panic attack), pretending not to notice that M was still pouting, staring at the ground and mumbling, “this is the worst day ever” over and over.

Finally we got to the first chilli vendor who scooped chilli into my bowl.

*painfully over-animated* “Ooooooo, yummy, this looks good, hey M?”

*to the ground*”…just the worst day…”

“Mmmmm, smells good too, wanna try some?”

“You dropped my mitten!”

“Oh, hahahaha” [Get me the fuck out of here], “Silly mommy!” *bending down to get mitten, scalding hand, making a pained “wooooo” sound but trying to pass it off as part of my general zeal for this joyful fucking day!* “Yummyyyy” *shovelling mouthful of chilli into my face, large flap of melted cheese slaps me in the chin and sticks there the way only volcanic hot cheese can; no free hand to remove it*

“I want to go home, mommy”. He’s almost crying now.

Breathing through the second degree (and counting) burns, I can barely hear/see him; I am literally grinding my body into the backside of the person in front of me with someone else breathing into the back of my neck. I just know he’s down there somewhere. And, terrified to drop one of the twenty-seven items in my hands (because, apparently, bringing a purse was not part of bonding day), I move as little as possible, save my top teeth frantically gnawing at my chin, trying to scrape the firey cheese back into my mouth. I  was like a petrified beaver.

I can’t even get nearer to him to reassure him; to remind him that, despite how he feels, we are having a great time.

Long story (not so) short, I cut the line and skipped right over to the table where my co-worker was serving his chilli. Thankfully, my sunglasses masked the sweat and tears and self-loathing which now, no doubt, made me look like I was coming off a three-day bender.

“Spicy?” he asked.

“Sure!” I exclaimed with feigned excitement for M’s benefit. I forced a celebratory ear-to-ear grin down to M who was not even looking at me but, rather, still frowning at his feet; still mumbling something about how terrible this was.

“Cheese?”

“I love cheese!!!” *projecting the excitement and volume of a lottery winner* [Please save me!]

I stood there and ate it “casually”. As if operating a spoon with two pairs of mittens and a score card and a bowl of piping hot, cheesey meat soup is no bigs. As if my three-year old is not being body-checked by blissfully oblivious chilli chuggers and begging me to take him home. As if I’m not wearing Leo’s exact costume from The Revenant inside a Russian steam bath.

me-in-my-turtleneck

actual photo of me entering the chilli tent.

I took my time, eating every last bite. And I made myself chew. And I made myself breathe. I could control those things. And I let the waterfall of sweat consume my chest and back. And, for a moment, everything went silent.

And then my bowl was empty and the whir of chilli/carnival mania resurged in full force. I took M’s hand and ran out through the side-exit, gulping in the cold, oxygen-rich air of the outdoors. I gave my score card to a girl I recognized and asked her to cast my vote for me. There was no way I was ever going back in there.

We walked back up the snow-covered hill. M reminded me several times that he is “never going to carnival again”. I felt numb. Defeated. I attempted to give him the “bad attitude” talk but I was done. Spent. Drenched. Exhausted.

[Did I mention I am up all night, every night, nursing his five-month old baby brother? But it’s ok because, great news, according to most older people, “these are the best years” so…there you go! *desperate, borderline-maniacal laugh…but also crying a little*]

Most of the eight-minute walk home was silent on my end. I carried him when the wind hit. He said, “thanks, mommy”.

The walk gave me time to think. What had I expected? A three-year old to enjoy a mostly-adult chilli cook-off? He doesn’t even like chilli! Neither do I, for that matter. Not that much.

My patient asked the right question – who was I doing this for? Not for M. And sure as hell not for me. But rather, I think, for the illusion I (we all?) feel pressured to create; “the family that does things”. The family that goes to chilli cook-offs during winter carnival.

When we got home, after I removed our eighty-five layers of clothing, I went to the playroom where M had, understandably, isolated himself for a moment of silent recovery. I apologized for taking him to a hot, tent with a bunch of grown-ups and told him that it’s ok that he didn’t like it.

And, no joke, he paused for a moment, and then looked at me and said, “I’m sorry I said all those awful things, mommy. That wasn’t very nice. I love you”. He said those exact words.

All he needed was for me to understand. To be real. To stop trying so hard.

I felt so proud. And so fucking glad to be home.

Then I went to the fridge and grabbed a pat-myself-on-the-back beer. At twelve-thirty in the afternoon. Because,  well, chilli.

beer

Heineken: Brought to you by parenting. And my short, man nails.

What to Expect When You’re a Leaky Bag of Hormones.

So I’m growing another human. It’s in my abdomen. I peed on that 50:50 stick on New Year’s Day (no reason really, just felt like a good way to kick start the new year) and it spit two lines back at me.

One. Two. Boom. Just like that. My immediate thought was “Shit, I shouldn’t have consumed that much wine yesterday”. Ironically, I’ve been longing (fiending) for that much wine ever since…

[Not really. Well yeah kinda. I love motherhood. And pinot noir. But moreso motherhood. Especially after a glass of wine…]

Anyhow, so yeah. Pregnancy. We meet again, you ol’ dog, you. We’ve been together, what is it, 38 weeks and four days now? Yet it somehow feels like 3.5 years, doesn’t it?

I remember the last time we parted ways…

I cut my hair like Bieber because I was “youthful” and “funky”. And hubby and I slept cozily on the living room floor of our one-bedroom Calgary condo for six months to create the illusion for the wee pudding boy that he had his own room.

Oh how times have changed…

I remember, at that time, being so exhausted trying to constantly stimulate the baby with expressive faces and animated talking and singing and tummy time and more faces and more talking and shapes and colors and classical music and…

By mid-morning I would be mentally tapped-out. Like, mouth-breathing while drooling. Tapped out. And so – shirt still unbuttoned, one or both bare, leaky tits apathetically flapping about – I would bundle the baby in the carrier or stroller and just go. Just walk aimlessly out of the condo and into the neighbourhood for sometimes hours. I was delusional with exhaustion.

I was also gym-selfie-worthy tanned due to all the time outside. And I unintentionally lost the baby weight (and then some) with such speed that the extended family had me convinced I had some undiagnosed wasting disease.

Once my family doctor confirmed an uncontrolled, flesh eating disease process was not, in fact, consuming me, I accepted my surprising, primiparous fate…

I’m a skinny chick now.

Pregnancy and delivery must have re-programmed something in me, perhaps at a chromosomal level. And now I could eat Zesty Doritos for breakfast and I’d probably lose weight for doing it.

“I don’t know”, I’d say, when asked about the sudden prominence of  bony parts previously burried, “I guess from breastfeeding?” Deep down, though, I’d be thinking “I’m just one of those people who can’t gain weight now. It’s not my fault.”.

And at the same time, my body hair almost stopped growing. I kid you not, I rarely had to shave my legs or armpits.

In short: my post-partum self had the body of a pre-pubescent boy.

Flash forward three and a half years: he done hit dat puberty.

Indeed, pregnancy #2 has inspired my body in a different direction. In the same work week, one colleague told me (“because I’d want you to tell me“, she said, bless her) to pluck my chin whiskers, and another told me that said whiskered face looked “really swollen”. I tried to argue with Friend Ship #2 that “it’s probably just from recent weeks of crying myself awake”. No, she confirmed, it was moon face. “Nothing temporary about it”, she assured me (I may be ad-libbing a little, but that was the gist).

Also, rest assured, I am no longer hairless. And I’m no longer “that skinny chick”. Also, there are skin tags now. There are sun spots; I call them freckles to sound “cute” (to myself). There is hair everywhere (can you hit puberty twice?). And (because I can’t commit to anything these days and started this blog many weeks ago) I am also no longer pregnant!

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Lil JD was born on August 28th. It happened much more quickly than my first labour and delivery. But that’s a story for next time. *annoying, exaggerated, open mouthed (probably with something in my teeth) wink*

So what can you expect, expectant ones? Expect to cry (a lot). Expect your body to not be your own, at least for a while (or forever). Expect to survive on no sleep starting around week 32 of pregnancy and ending around week 936 of your child’s life. When the first rays of sun peek through your mini-blinds – er, I mean, really fancy window coverings – at dawn, expect a joy similar to that felt by a lost soul in the desert stumbling upon an oasis…

Sweet adorable baby Jee, I made it! I fucking made it! I’m not the only one awake in the world anymore!!! *maniacal laugh*

Fuh realz (sorry). In the first few post-partum weeks, that joy of surviving another night is deep.

Expect to resent your partner and to appreciate him/her to the point of idolization.

Expect to be overwhelmed, almost constantly, with guilt. Every day. Morning until night. [I’m fucking it all up…]

Expect pride. And dread. And elation. And sheer terror.

It’s been a ride once again. Still to come in the next posts?

  1. Child birth #2. This one happened in a hospital. Heads up: I didn’t poop in a tub this time.
  2. Hand, foot and mouth disease – it’s something that happens when you have a three-year old plus a newborn and haven’t slept in four weeks. It round-house kicked my entire family in the collective face. It’s kicking my ass right now as I type this.

Until then,

Your estranged (and temporarily diseased) HOAR

Hello…It’s Me / The Dreaded Cereal Aisle Run-In

Riiiiiiiight…hey there…you. *good-natured shoulder punch*

Starting this blog post feels a lot like running into someone at the grocery store who texted or emailed or left you a voicemail, like, eighteen months ago:

You meant to get back to her but you didn’t. And then, when you thought of it, it made you so ill that you were such a negligent dick of a friend that you blocked it from your conscious mind until you randomly thought of it again some time later still and, for shame, you didn’t dare write/call back (surely her number has changed).

And then there she is. In the cereal aisle. Checking how many grams of sugar are in Kashi GoLean Crunch (only to be gravely disappointed). And she sees you.

First you yell “hiiiiiiiiiii” in her face, each decibel of volume somehow compensating for every minute you allowed to pass without returning her call. And because you’re acoustically and physically aggressive in awkward social situations, you throw yourself at her in some weirdly-angled embrace where you accidentally graze a boob. And then, drenched in back sweat and allowing not one God-forsaken moment of silence to enter the airspace between you, you say (yell at her while, for some socially-panicked reason, trying to pull her sleeping baby out of its stroller) something like this blog post…

I can’t remember what I even said or was doing when last we spoke (and by “we spoke” yes, I mean I sat alone in fat pants whilst my laptop seared my mommy organs). But since that time, I moved my wee family across this great nation to the Rock. I climbed back onstage for the first time in FOUR years, taking on a role where I got to projectile puke on an unsuspecting dude (which everyone knows is #18 on my bucket list).

[Not that my budding acting career has taken even a hint of a nosedive. Nay. It’s on the upswing. I don’t mean to brag but… I got some serious film and television cred while on the mainland. You may remember me from a little biopic called “Film Yet Untitled” produced by “I’m Pretty Sure a Church Group”.  As you know, it’s about the life of an Olympic gold-medal winning swimmer. I played “Mom in Childhood Scene” having a heated, silent argument with her husband while the protagonist narrates. I mean, it’s no big deal; don’t, like, look at me differently. It’s still me. I promised myself I wouldn’t let my film career change me, so… See you in the Actors Studio, as they say. *pretentious guffaw*.

Oh and then there was that lead role I had. A commercial for a furniture company. Well, not so much a “commercial” as an “employee training video” but still. Wow. Met some big names that day. Mostly the store owner – his surname was super long, I have no idea how you would pronounce it. Nice guy. 

Ok ok I’ll stop, no one likes a braggart. And because that’s all I’ve done.]

I also made life way harder for myself by giving up eating anything that was once alive and probably adorable. This was not a planned decision. It was forced upon me by my sister’s Facebook suggestion to dad to watch Hungry for Change. It spiralled from there because Netflix is so GD helpful in its suggestions.

You watched Hungry for Change? You might also like Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead. You watched Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead? You might also like Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead II. You watched Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead II? You might also like Vegucated. You watched Vegucated? You might also like Forks over Knives. You watched Forks over Knives? Don’t you work? 

[Sometimes Netflix gets judgey.]

Anyway, I watched it all. And since I am so “pliable” (read: prone to allowing others to make my decisions for me), I decided to go as “plant- based” with my face-stuffings as possible. I never intended to even use the word “vegan” as I try to avoid labels – I believe they limit us (prevent us from occasionally eating a large cheese pizza when we’re wine drunk without feeling like we’ve fallen off some wagon).

But it evolved somewhat organically (sort of like my groceries at the time – WINNING!… I’m so sorry.), particularly at restaurants. Because people get “vegan”. They get that it means, “no meat, dairy, eggs”. But “plant-based”? If I were a waitress (prior to my Netflix crusade), and someone inquired about which menu items were “plant-based” I’d likely quit my job.

I will at times eat wild-caught fish. If there are eggs or dairy hidden in some baked good? Just don’t tell me about it. I do believe in the importance of eating “plant-based”. But I still have to live. In Newfoundland. With a mother who truly believes that, in a state of severe nutrient deprivation, all my teeth are going to fall out.

What else happened while I was neglecting our relationship?

*My wee offspring is now almost three years old (three years old!!!). He is awesome and hilarious.

*This conversation with my (then) two-year old:

Me: M, what’s your teddy bear’s name?

M: Car-bo-ed.

Me: CAR-bo-ed?

M: Car-bo-ed.

Me: Car-bo-ED?

M: Car-bo-ed.

Me: Car-BO-ed?

M: Car-bo-ed.

Me: Car—

Jeremy: —HIS NAME IS EVAN!?!

* 2015/16 New Year’s Resolution: Total boycott of the term “guilty pleasure”. 2016 is going to be all about unapologetic pleasures. That said, here it is: I f’ing love Mistletoe by J. Biebs. It makes be feel warm and jolly.

*I discovered that few things give me as much profound blackout rage as water running up my sleeve when I’m washing my face.

* Yep, that about sums it up.

Anyway, I am sorry it’s been so long. So many times I said, “I’m going to blog now”. But despite popular opinion (by some of my aunts), I can’t be clever or witty on command. I can’t even think half-intelligent thoughts on command.

[Just now, in an attempt to get to heatheronarock.com to write this, I opened Google Chrome and typed, “thunderbay”. Just like that. All one word, all lowercase letters. I don’t know why but I feel this might mean I have some internal bleeding, somewhere.].

So 2016 will be all about writing. Even if it is non-clever, non-witty, non-coherent. Even if I just want to eat and binge watch Netflix at the end of the day. I’m just gonna dust off this ol’ laptop and plop my weary brain farts onto the screen.

You’re welcome.

I’ve missed you.

Happy new year, mom.

 

How to Create a Successful Children’s Show in 2015

I do think mindless channel surfing or refreshing web pages (lest a status be updated without our immediate knowledge) is sad. Have I done it? Holy eff yes. But I’m not proud of it.

Nor am I proud of the fact that, sometimes, I use television as a babysitter.

Did I say babysitter? I meant interactive learning tool.

To distract my child when I need to momentarily neglect him.

Anyway, for the past two years I’ve become well acquainted with toddler TV chart-toppers. I’ve been to Daniel Tiger’s Neighbourhood. I know Superwhy we need to stay Bo on the Go. And I Spy a need to Yo Gabba Gabba about it.

[In my head that was all supposed to read way cooler than it did. A total of one suburban mom virtually high-fived me. The rest of you understandably stopped reading.]

And I think I’ve got it down pat. I know what it takes to make a hit children’s TV show. One that can entertain/educate/hypnotize your child long enough for you to poop in relative peace.

Let me share my wisdom:

1. Only hire British voice actors

Do you ever, in a pinch, YouTube “baby videos” or “sing-alongs for toddlers” or “cool videos to watch when you’re stoned”? Who hasn’t! Chances are you may have come across some of the many adorably low-budget kiddie vids out there; 3D animated creatures singing beloved musical classics. Every little cartoon pig, hippo and panda sounds just like Jane and Michael themselves are serenading you.

Note: There’s something about hearing the singing voice of a British child… That entrenches your belief that they are, for sure, ghosts. All of them. All British children are ghosts. Every child voicing those songs in the YouTube videos are doing so from underneath lace veils. And, between takes, are assuring Nicole Kidman that they are, indeed, her daughters.

[Stay with me.]

2. Cut your budget in half by hiring only children for animated shows

If there is an adult character, use a voice modulator a-la Kevin-McAllister-booking-a-hotel-room-over-the-phone-in-Home-Alone-2. You save a buck and adorable panda dads sound just like possessed Marlena.

[If your afterschool babysitter didn’t let you watch Days of Our Lives while you ate Mayonnaise cookies, like ours did, you have every right to feel robbed of a childhood.]

3. Keep the parents on their toes

TV is a temporary childcare assistant at best. You still have to be half on your parental game. Which is why the best children’s shows must feature disturbingly questionable songs (Daddy finger, daddy finger, where are you?). Alternatively you can just dust off some age-old racist ditties that don’t seem to go away (Baa Baa Black Sheep…).

4. Drop acid. Don a jaunty unitard to invert any stray bit of external genitalia. Wear a taxidermied Muppet on your head (you whimsical British-Guard-gone-rogue, you). Interact with dolls that come to life and play and eat and dance and nap, just like real people. Except don’t make them look like people. Boooooooring. Why not animate, instead, a bumpy, phallic little rascal with legs? Make him one-eyed in case there was any remaining doubt as to the fact that he is, indeed, a talking, diseased penis.

It doesn’t matter what the rest of the characters are. Between that fabulously lithe man in the shiny spandex and the dancing, ribbed marital aid, all you need is a good hallucinogenic soundtrack and BOOM! Daytime Emmy!

Also, in your theme song, shout the name of your show 49 times in a row.

[Yo Gabba Gabba: it’s the closest you’ll ever come to doing magic mushrooms with your toddler.]

5. Write original, super catchy songs without any attempt at creative sense

Honestly, just freestyle sing the lesson you’re trying to get across. They can add music to it in post-production. Cue the orchestra…

*Something furry in my mouth? Don’t lick the pets, don’t lick pets! [Repetition is key.]

*Do you know why your breath smells bad? You forgot to brush your tongue! 

*I won’t get in your curtained van! But I’ll throw the litter in the garbage can!

That last one is what they (I) call “spontaneous genius”. It rhymed and incorporated two lessons in one. That would actually be rejected from most children’s programming for being too good.

6. If you use an adult narrator, make him/her use the annoying baby voice you used to use to compensate for your teenage neck fur when you talked to boys

The very successful creator of my son’s most beloved video series (let’s call it Infant Tesla) also does the narration. Her voice is sweet. Youthful sweet. Insulin resistant sweet. I’m gonna go out on a random crude but honest limb here… I bet her farts don’t smell bad. I said it. She’s one of those people who, when she farts once a year, says, “Oh, mine don’t smell”. Except that they do smell. Like Christmas cookies.

I really want to hear how her voice sounds when she’s in the real world. Like, what sound would she make if she, I dunno, inadvertently walked through a spider web? I, for example, would sound less like a cherry-scented child fairy, and more like Sly Stallone rectifying an impacted bowel.

In short: if you’re narrating a children’s show, do it like you have flourishing acne but deep down know you are the goddamn Little Mermaid.

______________________________________________________________________________

Perhaps, as a child of the ’80’s, I am biased. Our shows rocked! Mr. Rogers, Mr. Dress-Up, Size Small, Fred Penner… are you kidding me? We were being entertained by legends. The most “out there” show I can recall watching as a child was Zoobilee Zoo. Some of my most therapy-worthy nightmares have involved Bravo, the fox…

…holy shit, this should be on Broadway! OK, we officially had no bad shows growing up.

I guess today’s children will say the same thing in thirty years when their kids are watching bad, virtual reality movies in their contact lenses.

Yours,

HOAR

The Only Proper Knot I Ever Tied

Seriously, Girl Guides taught me nothing in that department. Isn’t that supposed to be their thing?

“Girl Guides of Canada: Enabling girls and women to be confident, resourceful and courageous, and to make a difference in the world. Whilst tying deadly ol’ knots”.

That badge is nothing but a dirty, dirty lie, burning a hole of deception in a box somewhere in mom’s basement. If I had to jump from a burning building and had nothing but a rope (ya know, to tie one end to the bed leg and shimmy down regularly spaced, pre-tied knots in the rest), I’d hold an end in either hand, like a jump rope, and hope for the best. Maybe some spark of parachute action. Or maybe I’d get lucky and hook a tree limb. Either way, better chance of survival than the knot-dependent option.

But anyway…I got married.

It was the classic tale: two kids from opposite sides of the track; a heart-wrenching saga of love conquering adversity.

Except that the kids were poorly hiding grays and in their thirties. And “the track” was Canada. And it wasn’t so much “heart-wrenching” as it was just “pretty effing sweet”. And the only adversity was, during the private ceremony, the ocean air blowing in the opposite direction of the moldable, pube-textured hair-piece that is my actual hair.

We didn’t always plan on eloping. We tossed around different ideas: back in Newfoundland? In Alberta? Destination wedding? We were resigned to the fact that people would have to travel either way.

But, upon testing our sample demographic of invitees, we quickly learned that it would be impossible to please everyone. And I have an insufferable guilt complex. So running away had a pretty nice ring to it.

You know how every little girl dreams endlessly of her “perfect day”? How her hair will look. How he /she will look (*swoon*). The location. The season. The flowers. The table settings. The first song. The ring…

Yeah, that wasn’t me. I was too busy digging for worms and cutting the hair off my dolls and trying to throw balls really, really high into the air. And being really pumped about solving Physics equations and writing Shakespearean sonnets (whereas my sister had “boyfriends” and “weekend plans” and what not).

So I was pretty open-minded about the whole thing.

By the ocean? he asked.

Yeah for sure! I replied.

Maybe when we go to Halifax next summer? he suggested.

That’d be sweet! I agreed.

And that was pretty much it. Now, I am always one for a challenge (but only when “challenge” is pronounced with a French accent). So, opting for a “Romance on a Budget” theme, I challenged myself to spend no more than $40 on my wedding dress. And, as the (unofficial, unpaid) face of Winners, I thought this would be a piece of cake.

But at the last minute I caved. This would be, after all, my wedding. So I spent triple.

We decided, since we were travelling that far, it would only make sense to have my sister and her betrothed man-candy (I would be remiss to not refer to him, henceforth, as simply “Mandy”) stand as our witnesses. We didn’t tell them we were getting married, just that we were meeting in Halifax and be prepared to put on some lip gloss (Mandy rocks the shiny pout look like it’s nobody’s business) and drink too much one night.

As the date approached – and as fate would have it – J’s best pal and his wife would be celebrating their five-year wedding anniversary on that side of the continent. So we planned to surprise them too.

We opted against “hiding from eachother” before the nuptuals. In fact, he zipped me into my dress as we both sipped beers.

So the six of us,  as well as two of our favorite tiny fellas, met up with a JP on a beach and we sealed the deal. None of us had been to this particular beach before but as soon as I learned the name I was sold. Cow Bay. Could there be a more perfectly named, neutral locale for the union of an Albertan and a Newfie? Doubtful. Plus Google informed me that there would be a lifelike moose statue. And that’s just cool.

We showed up at an abandoned parking lot using the address our amazing buddy Dave gave us as a loose reference. Our JP was a very lovely woman with awesome, bright red hair and a back problem. So she couldn’t walk far. Having never been there before, I hoped that the path from the lot into the trees lead to something oceany and close for her sake.

We headed in, hand in hand, our impromptu wedding party following suit.

What began as a dirt path through trees suddenly turned into a boardwalk which suddenly opened up to a platform over a rocky beach and the breathtaking Atlantic.

He was a tall drink of water from a cologne ad. And I was Roy Orbison in a lacy, discount summer dress.

It was perfect.

I won’t bore you with the details. Suffice to say, our vows bore a striking resemblance to dialogue from the award-winning 2013 feature film, Captain Philips.

Me (intense): Look at me.

J (concealing fear): Sure

Me: (more intense): Look at me.

J: Sure.

Me: …I’m the captain now.

Et cetera. It was beautiful. Probably wasn’t necessary that I use a Somali accent, but I got lost in the moment.

We smooched, and that was that.

Even with the flapping, navy-black pelt on my head, it was perfect.

Our first photo as a married couple captures, magically, the essence of the moment. As well as the adorable thing my son does where he wants me nowhere near him as daddy is everything.

She's ruining our photo.

How can you just smile as she ruins our photo?

I’ve been asked often (maybe twice, but it was the best transition sentence I could come up with), “How does it feel to be married? Different?”.

Not really. It just makes me appreciate our differences even more…

Like how he gravitates towards hip-hop and R&B music – usually songs featuring one or both of the two most offensive words I can think of. Whereas I like my musicians to literally be choking on their beards as they growl at their guitars and chain smoke their feelings.

And how he likes all things sporty and I like to blog about my transient backne.

And how I’m…what’s a sexy word for “stout”?… While he is, I’m pretty sure, medically, a “giant”. My fuzzy head fits perfectly into his fuzzy armpit.

Even our alarm tones reflect our differences. I, for example, like to wake up to an energetic little Caribbean number that invokes the sensation of a mariachi band actually under the bed covers with us. Whereas J likes to “wake up slow”. But not in a groovy, adult-long-boarder way, like Jack Johnson. No. Instead he chooses what sounds like a slowed down, all-bell Holiday jingle performed by Children of the Corn.

Sure, I walk to the car paranoid and looking over my shoulder every morning in the darkness. But once I’m in the car with the doors locked, I drive to work with a smile on my face.

While I don’t believe anyone needs an “other half” – as we are perfect and whole as we are – I must say, our differences are what make us awesome together.

He’s seen Wicked. I’ve been to a Broncos game. He knows Iron & Wine is so much more than two completely unrelated nouns. And I know what “icing” means. He’s watched The Mindy Project. And I don’t hate Drake.

It truly smells like happily ever after. And also way-too-liberal bathroom habits. But mostly the first one.